Trump: Graham Telling ‘Disgusting Lie’ About My Stance Against White Supremacy, Flake Is ‘Toxic’

(Updated)

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham / Getty Images

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President Donald Trump ripped into Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) on Thursday for his criticism of Trump's response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va., tweeting that he was telling a "disgusting lie" and could not forget his "election trouncing."

Trump has been under fire since a Tuesday press conference during which he declared "both sides" carried blame for violence in Charlottesville and said there were "fine people" on both sides.

Graham accused Trump of "dividing Americans, not healing them" and said he encouraged him to try to bring the nation together.

"Through his statements yesterday, President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer," Graham said. "I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency."

Referring to Heather Heyer, who was killed when, according to prosecutors, an alt-right protester rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, Trump said Graham was falsely saying he had morally equivocated between her and white supremacist organizations.

Trump tweeted, "Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham falsely stated that I said there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacists and people like Ms. Heyer. Such a disgusting lie. He just can't forget his election trouncing.The people of South Carolina will remember!"

Graham was one of 16 Republicans who Trump dispatched during his road to the GOP nomination in 2016.

He later hit Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) as "toxic" and said he was glad to see Kelli Ward running against him for the 2018 nomination, calling Flake a "non-factor." Flake has been one of Trump's toughest critics from the GOP.

Trump also criticized "fake news" for misrepresenting his views on hate and bigotry.

Trump came out Monday and specifically condemned white supremacist groups like neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan after only criticizing "many sides" on Saturday. On Tuesday, he reiterated he condemned such groups but also said not every person rallying against the removal of Robert E. Lee's statue was a white supremacist.

"I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups," he said. "But not all of those people were neo-Nazis. Believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch."

He said "alt-left" groups also bore blame for violence at the event.

"What about the alt-left that came charging in—excuse me—what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?" he asked reporters. "Let me ask you this. What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in the hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do."

UPDATED 7:00 A.M.: This article was updated with Trump's tweet attacking Flake.

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